Skip to content

Cooperative Doctoral Programme

PhD or DBA

In cooperation with the highly renowned University of Southern Denmark (Syddansk Universitet, SDU), the Brand University of Applied Sciences (BU) supports dissertation projects by outstanding graduates.

Earn an internationally recognised PhD (Dr. Phil.) or DBA (Dr. rer. pol.) issued by the SDU in fields focused on application-oriented research in brand management, brand communication and brand design, and conduct research with an intercultural focus on the links between Germany and China.

Postgraduate students receive individual support provided by the mentor and one supervisor each from the BU and the SDU. They are also given the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops to promote their academic development as they pursue their doctoral degrees.

Cooperative programme at a glance

Contents:application-oriented research in brand management, brand communication and brand design
Duration:3 years of full-time study or 3-5 years of part-time study
Place:Hamburg, Germany, and Esbjerg, Denmark
Degrees:PhD (Dr. phil) or DBA (Dr. rer. pol.) internationally recognised and issued by the SDU
Flyer about PhD Programme >

Impressions from the programme


Doctorate with focus on brands

The main research focus of Brand University of Applied Sciences is the topic “brand”, divided into the research clusters „brands and brand culture“ as well as „brands in the digital age“.

The university supervises dissertations that emphasize application-oriented research in the areas of brand management, communication or design. A business-related reference must always be given.

Flyer about PhD Programme >

Advantages offered by the cooperative doctoral programme

  • A unique focus on brands and on international exchange, particularly with China
  • A large selection of advanced graduate courses at the SDU (list of PhD courses) and seminars at the BU (e.g. on ‘scientific work’ and ‘brand thinking’)
  • Research stays at our partner universities in China and at the University of Southern Denmark
  • Close involvement in the doctoral programme, including individual support provided by two supervisors and Prof. Dr. Sattler as a mentor, as well as annual assessments of progress to date
  • Comprehensive access to IT networks, databases, libraries and the Brand Research Lab at the Brand University of Applied Sciences
  • Participation in international conferences

Individual support during the PhD studies

You will be individually supervised by Prof. Dr. Henrik Sattler as mentor and director of the programme, Prof. Dr. Oliver Schnittka as supervisor of the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), and a supervisor of your choice from Brand University (BU).

When choosing your BU supervisor, please refer to their research areas listed below.


Your Mentor: Prof. Dr. Henrik Sattler

Prof. Dr. Henrik Sattler is the director of the doctoral programme. He is a scientist who has won several awards.

He has repeatedly been ranked among the top one percent of researchers in Germany in the field of business administration. He has written five books and more than 50 internationally peer-reviewed articles in his core areas of research – brand management and social media marketing – that have appeared in leading international journals such as the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Research and Marketing Science.

For further information about the cooperative doctoral programme please contact Prof. Dr. Henrik Sattler.

Supervisors from SDU and BU

Foto OS

Prof. Dr. Oliver Schnittka (SDU)
Professor of Marketing and Branding

  • Strategic Brand Management and Marketing
  • Brand Valuation
  • Brand Communication in Digital and Social Media
Sven Christiansen

Prof. Dr. Sven Christiansen (BU)
Professor of Business Administration and Economic Basics

  • Company and brand valuation
  • Customer life value
  • Dynamic pricing
  • General prognosis methods and simulations for marketing relevant questions

Prof. Dr. Jörg Igelbrink (BU)
Professor of Brand Management

  • Country-of-Origin/ Brand of Origin
  • Consumer behavior, especially attitude research
  • Social Media Analytics and IBM Watson/ Cognos
  • Lifestyle Brand Management: Luxus/Sport/Fashion/Beauty
  • Mixed Method Design

Prof. Michael Jonas (BU)
Professor of Brand Communication

  • Spatial immersive interfaces/experiences
  • Machine learning/
    artificial intelligence
Yonca Limon Calisan

Prof. Dr. Yonca Limon-Calisan (BU)
Professor of  Communication Studies

  • Influence of loyalty programmes on consumer brand engagement
  • Cross-cultural Cosumer Research
  • Packaging Design
  • Endorsement
  • Emotions and social context
  • Mood induction and reactions to product design
  • Priming and brand choices
  • „Made in“ label

Prof. Dr. Thomas Suwelack (BU)
Professor of Digital Customer Experience

  • Data based A/B/n-tests in marketing
  • Effects of marketing stimuli on buyer behavior
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Cost transparency
  • Brand management
  • Private label brands
  • Brand extension
  • AI in customer management

Prof. Dr. Stefan Waller (BU)
Professor of Intercultural Brand and Innovation Culture

  • Fundamental research:
  • Cultural philosophy and anthropology of brands
  • Brand aesthetics
  • Ethics and brand culture
  • Based on this, research with a focus on German-Chinese exchange:
  • Brands a spart of certain cultures
  • Brands in intercultural exchange
  • Brands as transcultural phenomena

Application process

Step 1: After we have received and positively reviewed your application documents, we will be pleased to conduct a personal interview with you, during which you will present your research project in a 20-minute presentation.

Step 2: After a successful presentation, you will have 3 months to elaborate your research project in detail with the support of the BU’s supervisor.
This phase is followed by s final presentation in front of Prof. Dr. Sattler, Prof. Dr. Schnittka and the BU-supervisor. Based on that, a decision will be made whether your research project will be proposed to the SDU.

Step 3: Transfer of all relevant documents to the SDU. If you fulfill all requirements of our cooperation partner, you will be admitted to the doctoral programme.

Application and admission requirements:

In order to be accepted, applicants must have a master’s degree with a specialisation in business, management, design or a related field.

A full application includes the following:

  • Cover letter explaining the applicant’s motivation,
  • CV,
  • master’s degree transcript,
  • proof of English language skills corresponding at a minimum to IELTS 6.5,
  • two letters of reference
  • a precisely 3-page presentation of a research proposal.

Please send your application documents to

Study fees

The doctoral degree programme can be completed within 3 years of full-time study or 3-5 years of part-time study.

University fees amount to 39.000,- EUR for EU citizens and 51.000,- EUR for non-EU citizens.

Registration & Research Proposal Fee

During the application process you will be intensively accompanied by our mentor and supervisor. Therefore we charge a registration & research proposal fee of 2,450 Euro in addition to the tuition fees.

It needs to be payed in two equal installments – before Step 2 and before Step 3 of the application process.